N.B Chyoi / September 29, 2021
Since Burma’s February 1st coup in 2021, dynamics on the India-Burma border have changed and new dimensions are emerging. The business has been all time low at the border crossing of Chin State’s Rikhawdar & Mizroam’s Zokhawdar, and Sagaing Region’s Tamu & Manipur State’s Moreh, as well as China-Burma border at Muse-Ruili is yet to open.
The population on the India-Burma border is struggling hard not only due to the fluid situation in Burma but also due to pandemic effects in the border regions on both sides where the medical facilities are beyond the reach of a common man.
The influx of refugees from Sagaing region and Chin state bordering Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur is a matter of concern for India and it has further made the situation complex. The emergence of People Defence Forces(PDF) or Civil Armies in the regions bordering India have security implications. These pro-democracy groups need arms supplies to counter the Burma Army.
As these groups are operating on India-Burma border, there collusion with Indian rebel groups;-Naga, Manipuri, Kuki and Zomi can’t be ruled out although these PDF for the sake of support from Indian government are promising not to side with rebel groups but without their support they can’t operate in border areas. It’s a matter of debate for security establishments in India whether to extend support to such pro-democracy groups or not and if yes, for how long and up to what extent?
India is much concerned about its Northeast region’s stability and is trying hard to sort out the core issues but a lot has to be done as the situation is more complex than it appears. Naga talks have been going on since 1997 without any solution yet. The border is porous and border management is not effective due to rough terrain. The Free Movement Regime (FMR) which allows people from both sides to move freely within 16 kilometres of international boundary requires more effective checks rather than routine affairs. In the name of barter trade, a lot of other illegal activities like drugs and arms smuggling go unchecked.
The common stock of people on both sides of the border is another obstacle in border management. Fencing along the India-Burma border has been opposed by many tribes especially on the Indian side; basically it was backed by insurgents groups to keep the trans-border movement without checks.
Recent influx of Burmese refugees in Mizoram and border villages of Manipur and Nagaland will create another problem for state governments. Arms and ammunition have been seized thrice in large quantities in Mizoram recently indicating that insurgency is taking new shape. Mizoram has even ignored the India government guidelines over refugees. There is another dimension to this influx, Mizoram entertains only Christians not Buddhist.
Buddhist Burmese are caught by the common stock of people on both sides of the border is another obstacle in border management. Fencing along the India-Burma border has been opposed by many tribes especially on the Indian side; basically it was backed by insurgents groups to keep the trans-border movement without checks.
The People Defense Force (PDF) or Civil Defense Organization (CDF) from Burma seeking support from India should regard and appreciate India’s security concerns too. It should be both way co-operation and PDF should clearly state their stand but if they collude with Indian rebels and try to play then they will have a tough time.
India won’t accept such arrangements as India respects democratic values and sovereignty and is well prepared to defend its territory against any aggression. Indian rebels hiding in Burma’s territories are actually “bandits”, adopting deceptive means to target innocents and looting or taxing their hard earned money in the name of Independence.
These rebels have lost public support in their homeland so they are inside Burma. Their top leadership is in China and has been enjoying their patronage since decades. PDF & Civil Defense Armies should look more deeper and analyze the common enemy rather. Never forget that the February 1st military coup in Burma was a China’s sponsored one.
How can one refugee (Indian rebels in Burma) extend help to another refugee (Burmese seeking refuge in India). That requires a special introspection.
N.B Chyoi is a Kachin lawyer and geopolitical analyst focusing especially on Burma, India and China.
The opinion expressed here is the author’s own, and does not represent the editorial policy of The Kachin Post.